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About The Fast Radio Bursts (FRB)


Recently, an international team of astronomers studied repeating Fast Radio Bursts (FRB), FRB 20190520B, using the Green Bank Telescope in the U.S. and the Parkes Observatory in Australia. The report was published in the journal Science.


GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is an FRB?
  2. Why are they significant?

What is an FRB?

  • Since the first FRB was spotted in 2007, researchers have been trying to determine where they came from.
  • FRBs are essentially brilliant radio wave bursts (radio waves can be produced by astronomical objects with changing magnetic fields).
  • The X-ray component of the simultaneous bursts was detected by several satellites, including NASA’s Wind mission; in addition, a NASA-funded project called Survey for Transient Astronomical Radio Emission 2 (STARE2) also detected the radio burst;
  • However, because of their millisecond durations, it is challenging to detect them and determine their position in the sky.
Why are they significant?
  • First noticed in 2018 by the Canadian observatory the waves have created ripples across the globe for one reason — they arrive in a pattern.
  • This gave birth to theories that they could be from an alien civilization.
  • Initially, it was believed that the collision of black holes or neutron stars triggers them.
  • But the discovery of repeating FRBs debunked the theory of colliding objects.

Key Highlights of the Study on Fast Radio Burst (FRB) 20190520B:

Highly Variable Faraday Rotation Measure:

  • The Faraday rotation measure of the repeating FRB 20190520B was found to be highly variable, showing two reversals in direction.
  • The Faraday rotation measure indicates the strength of the FRB’s magnetic field.

Binary Star System Hypothesis:

  • The variations in the FRB’s magnetic field strength and the direction of reversal led researchers to propose that the FRB source orbits a binary star system.
  • The companion star in this system could be a massive star or a black hole.
  • The study suggests that “all repeating FRBs could be in binaries,” though further research is needed to confirm this hypothesis.

Turbulent Magnetized Plasma Environment:

  • The changes observed in the magnetic field and electron density around the FRB source indicate the presence of a turbulent magnetized plasma environment.
  • This environment likely influences the behavior of FRB signals.

Role of Radio Telescopes:

  • The study highlights the significance of advanced radio telescopes like the Very Large Array and the Deep Synoptic Array-110.
  • These telescopes enable precise localization of FRBs and provide valuable data to understand their sources and characteristics.

Advancing Cosmic Understanding:

  • Radio astronomy plays a crucial role in unraveling cosmic mysteries and deepening our understanding of the universe.
  • The study of FRBs provides valuable insights into intergalactic phenomena and celestial processes.

-Source: Down to earth

February 2024